The National Weather Association has declared May 25th as National Heat Awareness Day – established in an effort to bring attention to the dangers of extreme heat, the number one weather related killer in the United States. The hazards are as real for our pets as they are for people. It only takes a few minutes for a pet to succumb to heatstroke when left in a parked car on a hot day. Animals do not sweat the way humans do and humidity interferes with an animal’s ability to rid itself of excess body heat.
“A pet’s body temperature can increase quickly and dramatically if left in a parked car, often within 10 to 15 minutes,” according to Animal Emergency Urgent Care in Palm Harbor.
On a 78 degree day, a car parked in the shade can exceed 90 degrees and in the sun, a scorching 160 degrees. Even on cooler days, when parked in the bright sunlight, the temperatures inside the vehicle can reach the danger zone. Many experts say you should never leave pets in the car if temps are in the 60s or higher and don’t be fooled by thinking that leaving a window slightly down or parking in the shade will guarantee protection.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive salivation
- Warm, dry skin
- High fever
If you see signs of heatstroke, immediately take your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Give them water to drink and place a cold towel on their head, neck and chest. Call your veterinarian and have your pet examined.
“Sometimes, after a pet subjected to heat stroke is cooled, he might appear normal for a while, when in fact serious organ damage is happening,” stated AEUC.
Following are some alternative options to leaving your pet in a hot car:
- Leave your pet home if he can’t get out of the car with you.
- When vacationing with your pet, check with BringFido.com in advance for restaurants and hotels that allow pets.
- Bring your own pet food, drinking water and bowls and use rest stops to eat and stretch with your pet.
If you see a pet in a vehicle on a hot day, take the following action:
- Note the car’s make, model and tag number. If at a store, go inside and ask the manager to page the owner.
- If unable to contact owner, report to on-site security.
- Finally, call the police. They may respond faster than animal control and have the authority to enter the vehicle.
Remember, your pet is depending on you – their health and well being are in your hands.